Skip to main content

Vikings Head Coach Interview Tracker: Kellen Moore, Nathaniel Hackett, Dan Quinn, More

The Vikings have begun the process of requesting interviews for their coaching vacancy.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Vikings have made their first interview requests as they look to replace Mike Zimmer and fill their open head coach vacancy. We've got an initial list of seven names that were reported on Saturday morning, but there will likely be more to come going forward.

The timing is interesting here, as the team's search committee is beginning virtual  interviews for both head coach (Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett) and general manager (Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort) on Sunday. The GM hiring is going to come first, and that person will then have input in the selection of the coach, but it's not a situation where they're going to completely wait on beginning the coaching search until the GM is in place. 

Instead, they're doing both simultaneously. The Vikings' search committee — which includes the Wilfs, COO Andrew Miller, and EVP of football ops Rob Brzezinski, among others — is assembling a group of candidates that they like and getting the interview process underway. Perhaps they'll settle on a short list of names and then give the new GM input on which of those people is chosen? Maybe the new GM will take part in a second wave of interviews? Either way, the new GM clearly won't have total control over the hire of the head coach.

Here are the list of eight candidates that have interviews requested for the Vikings' coaching vacancy so far. There are plenty of other names floating out there as well, but these are the seven to know right now. If other interviews are requested, they'll be added to this page.

Rams DC Raheem Morris (added Tuesday 1/18)

We've got our first addition to the initial group of seven candidates requested for interviews by the Vikings. A little over 12 hours after Morris's Rams defense shut down Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in a wild card round blowout, the Vikings have put out a request to interview the LA DC. After that victory — in which the Cardinals managed 183 total yards, went 0 for 9 on third down, and turned the ball over twice — the Rams are up to fifth in defensive DVOA and sixth in opponent EPA per play this season. Having players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey makes life easier for a coach, but that doesn't mean Morris hasn't done a phenomenal job this year. 

Morris came up as a Buccaneers assistant coach in the 2000s. In 2009, he was named Tampa Bay's head coach despite being just 32 years old and having no NFL coordinator experience. He went just 17-31 over three seasons, primarily with Josh Freeman at quarterback, and was fired. Morris then worked his way back up the coaching ladder with Washington and Atlanta, serving as the Falcons' assistant head coach under Dan Quinn before taking over as the interim when Quinn was fired five games into the 2020 season. Morris managed to lead a team that had started 0-5 to a 4-7 finish, including a blowout of the Vikings in his interim debut.

So yes, he has just a 21-38 career record as a head coach, but the context of his teams needs to be considered. At 45 years old, he's much more experienced than he was during his first head coaching stint. Morris is a fantastic coach and leader who probably deserves another shot to lead a team sometime soon. He is primarily a defensive coach but has also coached on the offensive side in the NFL.

Rams OC Kevin O'Connell

O'Connell is the next bright young coach to have success working with Sean McVay. He's another former quarterback who has emerged as a rising star in coaching. Following stints with the Browns and 49ers, O'Connell went to Washington and became their offensive coordinator in 2019 before joining the Rams in that role for the past two seasons. LA has made the playoffs both years, first with Jared Goff at QB and then with Matthew Stafford this season. O'Connell was Kirk Cousins' QB coach in his final year in Washington in 2017. Going after a McVay protege seems like a good way of bringing the Vikings' offense to another level.

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

This is an interesting one because Gannon was on Mike Zimmer's Vikings staff for four years from 2014 to 2017 as an assistant defensive backs coach, working with a secondary that featured Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, and Trae Waynes. After leaving Minnesota, he spent three years as the Colts' DBs coach before being hired as Eagles DC last offseason. Philadelphia was 10th in yards allowed this season, but their advanced defensive metrics (17th in EPA per play, 25th in DVOA) weren't great. However, they turned things around after a slow start and were much better in the second half of the season. More importantly, Gannon seems to connect well with players. Another interesting note is that he spent a few years as a Rams scout in between coaching gigs early in his career.

Cowboys OC Kellen Moore

Moore is one of the youngest candidates out there at just 33 years old, but there's a reason he's become such a big name so quickly. The former Boise State star QB had playing stints with the Lions and Cowboys before joining Dallas's staff in 2018. After one season as the QB coach, he got the offensive coordinator job and has been in that role for three years, surviving a head coach change in 2020. The Cowboys have had one of the best offenses in the NFL with Dak Prescott at the helm, but it says a lot that Moore and Dallas were able to beat the Vikings this year with Cooper Rush at quarterback. He's a rising star on the offensive side of the ball who is getting serious consideration from a number of teams during this cycle.

49ers DC DeMeco Ryans

Ryans is a former player who has shot up the coaching ranks since hanging up the cleats. He spent a decade in the NFL as a middle linebacker, first with the Texans for six seasons and then with the Eagles for four. He was a standout player, making 139 starts and compiling nearly 1,000 tackles. After a year away from the league, he was hired by the 49ers as a defensive quality control coach in 2017. He spent three years as San Francisco's inside linebackers coach — working closely with star LB Fred Warner — and then was promoted to defensive coordinator prior to this season. The 2021 49ers ranked 3rd in yards allowed, 10th in points allowed, 7th in DVOA (including 2nd against the run), and 15th in EPA per play during the regular season. Ryans has done a phenomenal job and might be on the same trajectory as current Titans coach Mike Vrabel (NFL LB to LBs coach for a few years to DC for one year to head coach).

Cowboys DC Dan Quinn

What Quinn has done with the Cowboys' defense this season has been nothing short of remarkable. They rank second in DVOA and third in EPA per play allowed, up from 23rd and 21st in those categories a season ago. Quinn has helped young players like Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons emerge as superstars for a defense that led the NFL in takeaways. It's helped turn Quinn's image around after he was fired as Falcons head coach during the middle of last season. He reached a Super Bowl and went 3-2 in playoff games with Atlanta during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but went just 14-23 over the final 2-plus seasons to finish 43-42 during his Falcons tenure. Before that, Quinn was the DC for two incredible Seahawks teams that reached the Super Bowl both years, winning one of them. He has a ton of experience.

Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett

Poaching a head coaching candidate from your biggest rival? It could happen. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur get most of the credit for the Packers' outstanding offenses, but Hackett has been a big part of their success as well. He doesn't call plays in that offense, but his game-planning, hands-on coaching, and overall input in the scheme and playbook are significant. Rodgers has heaped praise on Hackett as a head coach candidate, and he's receiving interest from a number of the seven teams with vacancies. Hackett has been the OC in Green Bay for three years and was an OC for the Jaguars and Bills prior to that. The Packers have made the NFC championship in two straight seasons and need just one win this year to get back. The Jaguars went to the AFC title game four years ago with Hackett at OC and Blake Bortles at QB.

Hackett will be the Vikings' first interview. The way the league's anti-tampering rules work, the latest they can interview coaches whose teams are on a bye this weekend (like the Packers) is Sunday, so they're doing the interview now instead of waiting.

Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles

Both Tampa coordinators are expected to receive serious consideration for head coach vacancies (OC Byron Leftwich has interest from the Jaguars and Bears). Bowles began his NFL career as a Jets assistant in 2000. He got his first DC job with the Cardinals in 2014, then was hired as the Jets' head coach two years later. Bowles went 10-6 in his first season with New York but struggled after that. However, his defenses in Tampa over the past three seasons have been fantastic; Bowles and his unit shut down Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl last year. He's seen as a strong leader and is likely going to get another shot to lead a team at some point. Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (an unrestricted free agent this offseason) mentioned Bowles as someone he'd like to see Minnesota consider.

Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.